Unless you’re a Blue Jays fan, a moderately serious fantasy player or are some sick obsessive who reads every single box score every day [cough, cough], Randy Ruiz probably hasn’t even crossed your radar screen. Sure, the Jays’ part-time DH and backup first baseman came on really strong late last year, but he hasn’t hit for anything in 2010 and at 32 isn’t anyone’s idea of a prospect. Not surprising at all, then, that he was released today.
More surprising is the fact that, on the very same day, he signed a contract with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League. What timing that the Golden Eagles’ scout was there to thrust that contract in Ruiz’s hands mere minutes after the Jays gave him his walking papers!
Unless it really wasn’t fortuitous timing. Unless, like Toronto Star reporter Morgan Campbell, you believe that this was all done beforehand, with Ruiz making his deal with Tohoku Rakuten earlier this month when he missed a couple of games against the Indians for “personal reasons.” Campbell believes that Ruiz was talking to the Japanese team then, most likely with the Jays’ blessing.
If that’s the case, good for the Jays for making it easier for Ruiz to land on his feet. It’s obvious that he doesn’t have much of a role with this team, so doing what they can for him — if that’s what happened — was right sporting of them.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.